Return to the Forbidden Planet Review

Return To The Forbidden Planet – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer &Director: Bob Carlton


Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Return To The Forbidden Planet, the anniversary tour arrives at Darlington this week. And what a celebration it is.

Billed as Shakespeare’s ‘forgotten rock n roll masterpiece’, Return to the Forbidden Planet has roots with The Tempest. Futuristically set on a spaceship under the command of pipe smoking Captain Tempest (Sean Needham), the ship’s new female Science Officer (Christine Holman) causes an argument with the Captain over the importance of men and women. A meteor shower mid argument sees the pair parting ways – the Captain intent on navigating through the storm, while the Science Officer has other ideas, escaping via shuttle craft.

Mysteriously drawn to the planet D’Illyria, the crew meet mad scientist Doctor Prospero (Jonathan Markwood), who has been marooned on the planet since his wife and science partner Gloria sent him and their daughter Miranda (Sarah Scowen) into space.

Potions, tentacled space monsters, love triangles and secrets make for a fun and thoroughly enjoyable evening of rock ‘roll madness. As the old saying goes – ‘all’s well that ends well’ and love’s labours are both lost and found in this incredible mishmash of Shakespeare, music and some psychedelic hippie-ness.

The cast are incredibly talented; acting, singing and playing a myriad of different musical instruments while at times, battling zero gravity. In the midst of the spoken Shakespearean prose and blank verse we are treated to cleverly linked songs and fabulous instrumentals. Mark Newnhams epic guitar solo, linking The Zombies 64 hit ‘She’s Not There’ to Nirvana’s 91 ‘Teen Spirit’ is phenomenal. Worthy of narrator, Brian May’s, legendary guitar solo’s indeed.

Return to the Forbidden Planet is in a similar vein to Rocky Horror, not taking itself seriously and having great fun at the same time. The audience also have to play their part, battling ‘great balls of fire’ and protecting themselves from the reversal of the polarity of the neutron flow. The show plays on every cheesy sci-fi cliché, drawing on classics such as Star TrekDr Who and Phantom of the Opera. Don’t be put off by the Shakespeare, it’s very clever and a mismatch of some of the more famous quotes in between. The show is witty, clever and hugely enjoyable – a fitting tribute for its 25th year.